<time> July 7,
1908 </time> in New York City, New York, USA Died
<time> March 20,
2003 </time> in Los Angeles, California, USA
Writer, producer, television exec and entertainment lawyer Ben Brady died March 20 in L.A. He was 94.
Brady was founder of the Television Producers Guild and oversaw its merger with the Screen Producers Guild to form the Producers Guild of America.
He was a writer-producer of such shows as “Perry Mason,” “The Red Skelton Show,” “The Johnny Carson Show,” “Rawhide,” “Have Gun Will Travel” and “Outer Limits.”
He was at various times an exec at CBS, ABC and UA Television.
As a lawyer, he repped such theatrical clients as actor Bert Lahr and big band leader Paul Whiteman.
New York City native went to law school at St. Lawrence U., where he began writing daytime radio serials to support himself. After admission to the New York bar, he represented Lahr, Whiteman and other theatrical clients. But even while practicing law, he wrote for radio, including classics “The Thin Man,” “Cavalcade,” “Mr. & Mrs. North” and “Inner Sanctum.”
Landmark television pioneer Ben Brady was born and grew up in New York City, where he entered the entertainment business early, singing in the children's chorus in "Carmen" at the Metropolitan Opera. After graduating CCNY, he obtained his law doctorate from St. Lawrence University while writing radio episodes to support himself, including the well-loved serials "The Thin Man," "Inner Sanctum," "Mr. & Mrs. North," and "Cavalcade."
As an entertainment attorney, Brady represented actor Bert Lahr and band leader Paul Whiteman, among other theatrical clients. In addition, he starred in his own radio shows, "Brooding with Brady," on WMCA, and "And So to Brady," on WEAF. After America entered World War II, he became the head of radio production in the US Army's Sixth Service Command and wrote a weekly network series for "Service Time" on WABC, entitled "Weapons for Victory." He also took on a special assignment to develop musical programming for wounded service personnel, writing, directing, and producing programs and singalong albums starring such luminaries as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, and Eddie Cantor, which were sent to military hospitals worldwide.
After the war he relocated to Hollywood and began to write radio programs such as "The Dinah Shore Show" and "The Steve Allen Show." He also wrote comedy material for "Ozzie and Harriet," as well as for Groucho Marx and Fred Allen. As television became a viable medium, he developed and produced "The Ken Murray Show" in New York and "The Red Skelton Show" in Los Angeles, where he met guest Johnny Carson. He then went on to produce "The Johnny Carson Show."
In the late fifties, Brady collaborated with popular author Erle Stanley Gardner to develop the hour-length format for the classic "Perry Mason" television series, of which he produced the first seventy episodes, casting as the lead Raymond Burr, an actor who had previously been typecast in films as a villain. He then went on to produce the first of three iconic Western series, "Have Gun - Will Travel," starring Richard Boone.
In 1957 Brady also founded and became president of the Television Producers Guild. A few years later, in 1962, he collaborated with Screen Producers Guild president Walter Mirisch to merge the two unions, forming the Producers Guild of America, of which he was a lifetime member.
That same year, Brady was hired as VP in charge of programming for ABC-TV, where he green-lit such series as "Peyton Place," television's first primetime soap opera (which introduced Ryan O'Neal and Mia Farrow), and the classic crime series "The F.B.I.," along with the pilot of "The Outer Limits." It became yet another legendary series that he subsequently produced and for which he hired established science fiction authors such as Harlan Ellison to create scripts for what became award-winning episodes, despite the fact that he had inherited the show when it was destined for cancellation and was struggling with budgets that were far too small. After the show ended, he became VP in charge of programs for United Artists Television.
Returning to one of his favorite genres, he later executive produced "Rawhide," with Clint Eastwood, who had previously been the second lead, as the star of the series. Brady also established the first black continuing character in a Western. He then created and wrote "The Outcasts" for ABC, in which one of the leading characters was a former slave who became the partner of a white bounty hunter. In the racially troubled sixties, this was the first African American leading role in a Western, and the series was an acknowledged predecessor to the recent Tarantino film "Django Unchained."
In the early seventies, Ben Brady was an executive producer at CBS when he was asked to teach at California State University, Northridge. There he developed the screenwriting section of the Radio/TV/Film department, bringing in many professional film and television writers as instructors. During his subsequent career as a full professor with tenure, Dr. Brady authored published books that included Keys to Writing for Television and Film, The Understructure of Writing for Film & Television, and Principles of Adaptation for Film and Television.
Ben Brady passed away in 2003 and was survived by his wife, Estelle; his son, manager/producer David Brady; his daughter, writer/editor/performer Deanna Brady, and his grandson, manager/producer Devon Brady.